Calls to make Ottery hospital 'top priority' following debate for need for working group
PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 December 2018
Fighting for the future of Ottery Hospital should be 'top priority' says residents as they called for more support and transparency from town councillors.
The council chamber was filled to capacity for an extraordinary meeting re-examining a decision by the town council to support or rescind a motion to set up a hospital working group.
The proposal was passed at the start of the month, with many councillors abstaining as they said they did not have enough information.
Residents speaking at the meeting last Thursday said they felt there was lack of support from the council and were baffled to revisit the decision due to the weight and transparency a working group could show.
Stewart Lucas told members the council contributed hugely to the community but needed to listen to concerns as the town’s population continued to grow.
He said: “I for one believe the protection and the support of our local community hospital is an issue that should be right at the very top of the priorities of the council, and I feel the people of this town deserve to know that is a priority and that their feelings and opinions are valued and taken into consideration and that there is full transparency.”
Last week, health ministers gave firm reassurances the hospital has a ‘sustainable future’ but resident Ian Dowler said there needed to be more than a ‘glimmer of hope’.
Mr Dowler said: “Ottery does need to retain, not just the hospital services that it has at the moment but it needs to expand and utilise the space that’s there.
“With people living longer, Coleridge (Medical Centre) is bursting at the seams. Surely common sense would dictate that an overspill surgery be created at the hospital among other health departments, which would take some of the pressure off the RD&E?
“We need to take affirmative and positive action and no longer rely or applaud these sad and pathetic reasonings that all shall be well. It’s not acceptable.”
Councillors voted to defer making a decision until February to allow organisations involved in saving the hospital to meet and gather information.
Cllr Glyn Dobson said: “We all want to save the hospital, perhaps we want to do it in different ways. The health and care forum is doing a good job, there are five councillors on there and the results have come out this week in the Houses of Parliament that Ottery St Mary Hospital has a good chance of staying open.”